Godwin Emefiele, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), gave deposit money banks (DMBs) yesterday instructions to start issuing the newly designed naira notes over the counter, with a N20,000 daily payout cap.
Emefiele also asked Nigerians to be patient, noting that the central bank was making serious efforts to address the issue of long lines at Automated Teller Machine (ATM) locations throughout the nation.
This coincided with the federal government’s declaration yesterday that the suffering being endured by the populace as they attempt to switch from the old naira to the redesigned ones should be considered as a temporary sacrifice for the country in order to attain long-term economic sanity.
At a news conference held at the State House in Abuja, Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning Mrs. Zainab Ahmed added that President Muhammadu Buhari was not pleased with the situation.
Two notable traditional leaders in Ogun State did, however, yesterday voice support for the CBN’s cashless strategy.
The two traditional rulers were Oba Sikiru Adetona, the Awujale and Paramore by Ruler of Ijebuland, and Oba Adedotun Aremu Gbadebo, the Alake and Paramount Ruler of Egbaland.
Emefiele, the central bank governor emphasized that the CBN remained committed to ensuring the effective distribution of the recently launched naira banknotes nationally in a statement by CBN Director, Corporate Communications Department, Mr. Osita Nwanisobi.
He claimed that for reasons best known to them, people were serially obtaining the newly introduced banknotes from the cash dispensing machines and stocking and aggregating them. He claimed that the central bank was aware of the long lines at ATMs across the nation and the rising trend in these cases.
The CBN also voiced concern over incidents in which unregistered individuals and non-bank personnel were allegedly exchanging banknotes for members of the public on the CBN’s behalf.
The top bank also stated that it will penalize anyone found selling the newly redesigned banknotes as well as anyone found flagrantly abusing the legal tender by tossing wads of naira notes into the air and stamping on it at social gatherings.
Nwanisobi declared: “Contrary to the actions of these disloyal individuals, we wish to say unambiguously that it is forbidden in all situations to sell, throw, or stamp the naira.
In order to avoid any misunderstanding, Section 21(3) of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act 2007 (as amended) states that “spraying, dancing, or matching on the naira or any note issued by the bank during social occasions or otherwise howsoever shall constitute an abuse and defacing of the Naira or such note and shall be punished under the law by fines or imprisonment or both.”
Similar to this, Section 21(4) declares that it is unlawful for anyone to “hawk, sell, or otherwise deal in the Naira notes, coins, or any other note issued by the Bank,” which is penalized under Subsection (1) of this section.
The Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), and the Nigerian Police are all working together to stop this unpatriotic conduct, the apex bank noted.
Because of this, the CBN director warned Nigerians, especially those attending social events like birthdays, marriages, and funerals, to stop disrespecting the naira or run the danger of being detained by law authorities.
Earlier, the CBN had instructed commercial banks to stop handing out the new banknotes over the counter and start issuing them through ATMs.
Following its currency redesign initiative, the CBN last month announced a 10-day extension of the January 31, 2023 deadline for the return of old naira notes to February 10.
Emefiele had stated that the gesture was made to facilitate the collecting of additional old notes that Nigerians legitimately owned and to increase the success of cash exchanges, particularly in rural areas, before all old notes outside the CBN lose their validity as legal money.
Additionally, the apex bank provided a seven-day grace period from February 10 to February 17, in accordance with Sections 20 (3) and 22 of the CBN Act, allowing Nigerians to deposit their old naira notes at the CBN after the deadline in February, after which the old currency would have lost its legal tender status.
He claimed that thanks to the Agent Naira Swap initiative and the CBN senior staff nationwide sensitization team exercise, Nigerians living in rural regions, villages, and those who are elderly or vulnerable have had the chance to exchange their old notes.
He claimed that the CBN was still committed to providing all Nigerians with the chance to deposit their detained funds with the CBN for exchange, with the exception of those hoarding illegal or stolen naira in their houses for speculative purposes.
Emefiele urged Nigerians to cooperate with the bank to guarantee a smooth implementation of the naira redesign initiative, noting that CBN employees are now engaged in mass mobilization and monitoring in conjunction with EFCC and ICPC authorities in order to achieve the exercise’s intended goals.
“We made it plain from the beginning of this currency redesign initiative that the CBN hasn’t been able to undertake this crucial component of its duty for 19 years, when this should ordinarily have been done within five to eight years window,” Emefiele said.
He added that due to recent policy interventions such as the currency redesign and the cashless policy, the central bank’s major goal was to make its monetary policy decisions more effective. “Inflation has started to trend downward, and exchange rates are largely stable.”
The CBN governor also emphasized that the endeavor to redesign the currency will help the central bank support security forces’ efforts to combat banditry and ransom-taking in Nigeria, noting that the military is making considerable success in this area.
Meanwhile, the CBN, Ilorin branch, Kwara state, has trained and sensitized over 30,000 super agents in response to the misery that the populace is experiencing as a result of the devaluation of the naira. In order to facilitate the naira cash swap and the availability of fresh naira notes in the state, they were each each handed the sum of N500,000 in cash.
Yesterday, while checking certain point of sale (PoS) super-agents in Ilorin, the CBN Director of Consumer Protection, Mrs. Rashidat Mangunu, made the statement in Ilorin.
According to her, the action will help rural residents gain access to new naira notes and so stimulate the economy in the nation.
Mangunu stated that the super agents will receive a payment of N500,000 weekly to facilitate the daily cash exchange of N10,000 for residents of remote areas.
She claimed that because accredited PoS agents had become more informed, the cash swap policy had advanced.
She continued by saying that consumers have extra time to swap notes and deposit old notes into their accounts as a result of the extension of the deadline for using old naira notes.
She urged the state’s residents, in particular those living in remote regions, to wisely use super-agents to exchange their outdated currency and open accounts to make transactions easier.
“People can open a bank account through the PoS super-agents easily with just the national identity card and save their previous money in their accounts, without concern,” she continued.
“All of your old naira notes will be deposited by our super-agents at no cost, and your money will be safe in all of your different bank accounts.”
Mangunu gave the assurance that all financial institutions would be involved and that each super agent would have adequate money to operate.
She assured bank customers that they would be able to access their money by saying that adequate money had been allocated to all financial institutions in Ilorin.
One of the clients, Mr. Sadiq AbdulRasheed, claimed he was able to exchange his old naira notes without paying a fee at one of the super agents he visited in Osere Area, Ilorin.
In addition, numerous inhabitants in Isale Bani, Alore Area, Ilorin, reported that they couldn’t swap their notes since the new notes weren’t available.